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Washing chicken

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sylvan Jan 19, 2012 08:19 PM

Hello
I pat dry chicken before I brown or roast it but I know some people who wash chicken before cooking.
When I ask them why they say it's to get them clean. The chicken is not brined. It's right from the grocery store package. What would be the purpose? Seems to me that one would just have a sink to disinfect.

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    wyogal RE: sylvan Jan 19, 2012 08:21 PM

    Because their mother did it, and her mother did it, and her mother did it.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyogal
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      sylvan RE: wyogal Jan 19, 2012 08:52 PM

      LOL

    2. s
      sandylc RE: sylvan Jan 19, 2012 08:22 PM

      I think that the current thinking is that, as you suspect, washing a chicken just spreads the germs around more without doing much for the chicken.

      1. LaureltQ RE: sylvan Jan 19, 2012 08:30 PM

        When I buy whole chickens, they come in those bag things (and I go through LOTS of chickens, feeding 2 80lb dogs!) I drain them into the sink, but never ever wash the chicken. It seems silly unless that tiny bit of viscous pink liquid freaks you out. I watch my dogs chew through raw spines and devour livers. Nothing much from the grocery store grosses me out (except the spines and skin in canned salmon - blech!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LaureltQ
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          sylvan RE: LaureltQ Jan 19, 2012 08:53 PM

          thanks, all
          I guess you all agree that washing chicken has no point

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          GH1618 RE: sylvan Jan 19, 2012 08:53 PM

          The USDA recommends that chicken not be washed. Here is a link to the recommendations for handling chicken:

          http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/...

          Draining the package into the sink should be followed by washing the sink. The recommendation against washing would apply, because the concern is that food served uncooked might be contaminated by falling into the sink and being retrieved.

          2 Replies
          1. re: GH1618
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            sylvan RE: GH1618 Jan 19, 2012 09:01 PM

            GH1618
            Great info

            1. re: GH1618
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              DebbyDoesDessert RE: GH1618 Jan 20, 2012 09:43 AM

              Thanks for the link GH1618. Washing poultry was recommended back when I learned to cook. I'm glad to know I can stop doing it.

            2. s
              sandylc RE: sylvan Jan 19, 2012 09:17 PM

              Should we move on to washing mushrooms? :-}

              15 Replies
              1. re: sandylc
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                sylvan RE: sandylc Jan 20, 2012 03:38 PM

                mushrooms?
                put them loose in fridge til you want to use them...THEN, wash them, not before

                1. re: sylvan
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                  sandylc RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 06:10 PM

                  Yes. There are still many people out there who believe the myth that mushrooms CANNOT BE WASHED at all.

                  1. re: sandylc
                    monavano RE: sandylc Jan 30, 2012 02:05 PM

                    I always wash mushrooms and if that changes the texture a bit, so be it. I wash all produce to clean it before I eat it.

                    1. re: monavano
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                      sandylc RE: monavano Jan 30, 2012 02:51 PM

                      I always wash them, as well. It doesn't change anything. Alton Brown even TRIED to mess up mushrooms with washing and even soaking......he failed.

                      I don't know where that myth came from. From mushroom brush manufacturers, no doubt!

                      1. re: sandylc
                        monavano RE: sandylc Jan 30, 2012 02:53 PM

                        It's amazing how inconsistent network chefs are. Some practically go apoplectic at the thought of washing mushrooms!

                        1. re: monavano
                          tommy RE: monavano Jan 30, 2012 02:59 PM

                          Are they supposed to be consistent? I guess I don't find it surprising that different cooks and different people have different opinions.

                          1. re: tommy
                            monavano RE: tommy Jan 30, 2012 03:39 PM

                            I think they should be. They're the big leagues.

                            1. re: monavano
                              tommy RE: monavano Jan 30, 2012 03:40 PM

                              LOL!

                          2. re: monavano
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                            sandylc RE: monavano Jan 30, 2012 02:59 PM

                            That's true. Some still believe it, and some poo-poo it. I saw Jacques Pepin make fun of the myth once while he was washing his mushrooms.

                            1. re: monavano
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                              Puffin3 RE: monavano Feb 2, 2012 04:45 PM

                              You want inconsistent? I recently saw G. Ramsey pour olive oil on to a boiling pot of water he was boiling pasta in!!!! Bloody unbelievable!

                              1. re: Puffin3
                                Chemicalkinetics RE: Puffin3 Feb 2, 2012 04:50 PM

                                What is wrong with this?

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                                  sandylc RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 2, 2012 04:55 PM

                                  Not supposed to put oil in pasta water because it prevents the sauce from sticking to the pasta.

                                  1. re: sandylc
                                    tommy RE: sandylc Feb 2, 2012 05:08 PM

                                    In theory, perhaps. In practical applications, not so much.

                                    1. re: tommy
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                                      sandylc RE: tommy Feb 2, 2012 06:00 PM

                                      You probably have a point. It's just what "they" say.

                      2. re: sylvan
                        bushwickgirl RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 06:11 PM

                        I never wash mushrooms, unless they're picked in the wild and then it's just with a damp towel. Cultivated 'shrooms are grown in a sterile medium. If anything, I brush them off, but most mushrooms I purchase these days are pretty free of debris.

                        As for chicken, I never wash it, most always brine it and pat dry.

                    2. ladooShoppe RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 09:23 AM

                      I always rinse my chicken in super duper cold water in a metal colander. The reason: my parents always did it. I give it a shot of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to remove that "chickeny" flavor and toss it with my finger tips in the colander to remove as much water as possible. BUT... I get my chicken from the Asian supermarket in a plastic bag and sometimes I find feathers on it still.

                      1. Uncle Bob RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 09:55 AM

                        I brine just about all chicken...So I suppose it does get a bath.. of sorts...........

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                          acgold7 RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 10:32 AM

                          I know washing isn't recommended, but for me it's psychological -- I'm not crazy about the slime in the package and sometimes supermarket chickens can smell a little funky.

                          So as I always brine all my poultry anyway, I prepare the bucket of brine first, slit the poultry bag and carefully slide the chicken directly into the brine. No splashing and it gets a bit of a wash while it brines.

                          After brining is done, I usually let the bird air-dry in the fridge for a day or two. Great crispy skin that way.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: acgold7
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                            sylvan RE: acgold7 Jan 20, 2012 03:45 PM

                            that's a nice system, acgold7
                            I usually marinate/marinade them in teryaki sauce, which I've always been happy with
                            but am wondering should I try brining.
                            what is a gentle brine solution for two bone-in breasts?

                            1. re: sylvan
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                              megjp RE: sylvan Jan 20, 2012 04:07 PM

                              I use about half a cup of light brown sugar and half a cup of kosher salt per litre (or gallon, I guess if you insist ;) of water.. I think that's pretty standard, but then you can toss in other flavours depending on your mood and what's available. Herbs like thyme or rosemary or tarragon, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns, sliced onions or smashed garlic cloves..

                              1. re: megjp
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                                acgold7 RE: megjp Jan 21, 2012 01:25 PM

                                A liter and a gallon are very different. Maybe you meant quart?

                                For an overnight gentle brine, I use only 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt (not table salt) per gallon. But for a quick brine you can use 1/2 cup table salt per 2 quarts or liters.

                                1. re: acgold7
                                  scubadoo97 RE: acgold7 Jan 30, 2012 05:32 AM

                                  Which Kosher salt do you use? Mortons or Diamond?

                                  1. re: scubadoo97
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                                    acgold7 RE: scubadoo97 Feb 2, 2012 06:44 PM

                                    I use only Diamond.

                            2. re: acgold7
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                              M_and_H RE: acgold7 Jan 20, 2012 04:19 PM

                              I'm always afraid to let raw chicken air dry in the fridge, doesn't it contaminate other items in the fridge?

                              1. re: M_and_H
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                                darrentran87 RE: M_and_H Jan 20, 2012 04:32 PM

                                I hope not. I do it all the time. I just make sure nothing is close to it

                                1. re: M_and_H
                                  LaureltQ RE: M_and_H Jan 20, 2012 05:24 PM

                                  Not as long as things aren't touching it! An empty crisper drawer is a good option.

                                  1. re: LaureltQ
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                                    arjunsr RE: LaureltQ Jan 20, 2012 06:52 PM

                                    you can also do the alton brown method and keep cooked foods/things consumed raw above it. i've never had any problems air drying poultry on the lower shelf.

                                    my mom and aunt won't eat chicken unless we wash it.. i only do it when i'm near them.

                                  2. re: M_and_H
                                    eight_inch_pestle RE: M_and_H Jan 21, 2012 12:43 AM

                                    Nope. And it does wonders for the skin.

                                    1. re: M_and_H
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                                      acgold7 RE: M_and_H Jan 21, 2012 01:27 PM

                                      No, why would it? It's not like it's spraying germs everywhere. As long as you keep it on a tray and also on the bottom shelf, it's pretty much physically impossible.

                                      I also perch my whole birds on vertical roasters while drying, whether or not I'm planning on cooking them that way, so all liquid drains off and there are no undried spots.

                                      1. re: acgold7
                                        eight_inch_pestle RE: acgold7 Jan 29, 2012 08:17 PM

                                        Oh, the vertical roaster is a smart idea. I put the bird on a rack set over a large plate and turn every once in awhile, patting dry as I go.

                                  3. Chemicalkinetics RE: sylvan Jan 29, 2012 08:56 PM

                                    Because I like to spend some time with my chicken, ok?

                                    1. Cherylptw RE: sylvan Jan 30, 2012 07:44 AM

                                      I always wash my chicken; I don't know where the bird has been at the store. It could have been sitting on something not so clean or dropped & just stuck in a package. Also, bagged chicken parts like leg quarters or cut up whole chickens some time have pieces of bone & gristle in the bag/package as well as the bloody liquid. Why would I want to just pour all of that in my roaster? Besides, its no more laborous to disinfect a sink as it is to wash it out which is something that should be done anyway.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Cherylptw
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                                        GH1618 RE: Cherylptw Jan 30, 2012 07:58 AM

                                        You are getting to the substance of the issue here. The point of guidelines advising against washing chicken is to minimize risk of contamination. If you are aware of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination, and take the necessary precautions, there is no harm done by washing your chicken.

                                        1. re: GH1618
                                          Cherylptw RE: GH1618 Jan 30, 2012 01:10 PM

                                          so, the FDA would rather you get contamination from unwashed food? Again, are we certain where the food has been prior to bringing it home? Sure, it was in a store, but with raw meat, I'm not going to assume anything unless I handle it in a manner I deem necessary for it to be considered consummable. It's common sense

                                          1. re: Cherylptw
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                                            GH1618 RE: Cherylptw Jan 30, 2012 01:24 PM

                                            The guidelines are from the USDA/FSIS, not the FDA (see link posted above). I am sure that their guidelines for handling chicken are aimed at maximum safety. Washing a chicken does not remove the potentially harmful bacteria. Only proper cooking can do that. When washing a raw chicken, if you choose to do that, it is important to avoid cross-contamination.

                                            1. re: Cherylptw
                                              tommy RE: Cherylptw Jan 30, 2012 01:26 PM

                                              Washing it isn't likely going to get any of these contaminants off of the chicken. Cooking it, however, will. The FDA is keenly aware of this, I suspect.

                                              Washing it gets chicken juice in places that you don't want it. That is what the FDA doesn't want to happen.

                                              1. re: Cherylptw
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                                                sandylc RE: Cherylptw Jan 30, 2012 01:40 PM

                                                How are you washing it? Unless you're soaking it in bleach for days, it is unlikely that you are removing/killing anything harmful.

                                          2. monavano RE: sylvan Jan 30, 2012 02:06 PM

                                            I had a friend who would rinse her chicken with hydrogen peroxide. Something about the foaming action made her think that it was getting rid of germs.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: monavano
                                              scubadoo97 RE: monavano Jan 30, 2012 02:19 PM

                                              And it was getting rid of surface germs.

                                            2. dave_c RE: sylvan Jan 30, 2012 03:30 PM

                                              I always wash chicken. It gives me a chance to pull out little bits of leftover feathers bits, wash the slime from being in the bag, a chance to check the cavity and pull off excess fat deposits.

                                              I personally think the salmonella link to chicken it way over blown where people are paranoid. I'd be more worried about ground beef than whole chickens. However, I do use good practices where I prep all foods I plan to serve raw before I handling raw meat.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: dave_c
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                                                sandylc RE: dave_c Jan 30, 2012 03:37 PM

                                                You know, you have triggered my realization that it really doesn't matter if you want to wash your chicken or if you don't care to. What really matters is that everyone has an understanding of good practices in food prep, with an understanding of cross-contamination possibilities and prevention strategies.

                                                1. re: sandylc
                                                  dave_c RE: sandylc Jan 30, 2012 03:48 PM

                                                  I agree. It comes down to personal preference. For me, the bag juices on chicken is unappetizing while for others the concern of additional cross-contamination is their deal breaker.

                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                    tommy RE: sandylc Jan 30, 2012 03:59 PM

                                                    Good luck in getting people to understand the issues before forming strong opinions, unfortunately.

                                                    1. re: tommy
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                                                      sandylc RE: tommy Jan 30, 2012 04:03 PM

                                                      Which is the reason why the government recommendations are always written with a safety buffer built in. For example, holding poultry at 140 degrees for 3 minutes kills stuff and hitting 160 kills it also; the gov tells everyone 165 just to be extra sure.

                                                      1. re: sandylc
                                                        tommy RE: sandylc Jan 30, 2012 04:07 PM

                                                        Indeed. Things of this nature are written for non-thinkers, which is the majority of the country.

                                                        1. re: tommy
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                                                          GH1618 RE: tommy Jan 30, 2012 05:24 PM

                                                          Also for thinkers who sometimes take shortcuts or simply make a mistake.

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                                                  Querencia RE: sylvan Jan 30, 2012 04:43 PM

                                                  One reason I wash chicken under running water is to remove bits of kidney or liver or whatever it is that are sometimes on the inside. I HATE that giblety taste that seems to permeate the meat and gravy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Querencia
                                                    iluvcookies RE: Querencia Jan 30, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                    Same here... there always seems to be some little bits of liver stuck in the cavity. I also hate "bag gunk"

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                                                    GH1618 RE: sylvan Jan 30, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                    Here's a link to a recent article about a CDC report on salmonella infections:

                                                    http://ohsonline.com/articles/2011/06...

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                                                      Puffin3 RE: sylvan Feb 2, 2012 04:51 PM

                                                      Take a tour of a commercial poultry processing plant. Don't bother because they won't allow you in the door. You won't ever need to worry about washing your chicken again because you'll never buy another bird unless it from a small family farm that does it's own butchering of it's 'free range' birds.

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